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Nile Green

Professor & Ibn Khaldun Endowed Chair in World History

Contact Information

Email    green@history.ucla.edu
Office  7256 Bunche Hall
Phone  310-825-9498
I am a historian of the multiple globalizations of Islam and Muslims. After beginning my career as a historian of India and Pakistan, I have traced Muslim networks that connect Afghanistan, Iran, the Indian Ocean, Africa, Japan, Europe and America.

Reviews of my books have appeared in The New York Times (as Editors' Choice), The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, The Literary Review, Prospect, Time Out, as well as major newspapers across the English-speaking world from the Toronto Star to the Sydney Morning Herald (as Pick of the Week), in addition to South Asia and the Middle East.

My writings span the domains of global, social, religious, cultural and literary history. My most recent book, The Love of Strangers, reconstructs the beginning of modern Muslim-European exchange by following the first Middle Eastern students to study in Europe. My earlier books have explored such broad topics as the emergence of industrialized religious economies in the nineteenth century Indian Ocean, Atlantic and Pacific; the world history of Sufism; the making of the world's largest Muslim community in India/Pakistan; and the Muslim soldiers of the British Empire.

In recent years, I have sought to position Islam and Muslims in global history through publishing more broadly on such topics as intellectual and technological interchange between Asia and Europe; Muslim global travel writings; the transnational genealogy of Afghan modernism; and the world history of 'Islamic' printing. I have also used the networks forged by Sufi brotherhoods to understand pre-modern and early modern mechanisms of Muslim expansion from the Middle East to China and beyond. One hallmark of my writing has been to join together the study of the early modern and modern periods, especially with regard to the question of multiple globalisms and globalizations.

In methodological terms, much of my work has drawn on the insights of anthropology, an interest that developed as I lived, researched and traveled in India, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Chinese Central Asia, Turkey, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Oman, Jordan, Morocco, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Myanmar, Malaysia, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. Given the fact that South Asia is home to the world's largest Muslim population, my work seeks to position the region in a global and comparative perspective.

To this end, I served for eight years as founding director of the UCLA Program on Central Asia. I currently serve on the Association of Asian Studies' South Asia Council; on the Executive Committee of the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies; and on the editorial boards of  Iranian Studies, Iran-Nameh, Afghanistan, the Journal of South Asian Intellectual History, and the South Asia Across the Disciplines book series. I previously spent five years on the editorial board of the International Journal of Middle East Studies.

Through my initial training in South Asian and Middle East Studies and my abiding interests in Muslims in Asia, Africa and Europe, I endeavor to bring global history into conversation with Islamic history.

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- John Simon Guggenheim Fellow

- Luce/ACLS Fellow in Religion, Journalism & International Affairs


- John Simon Guggenheim Fellow

- Luce/ACLS Fellow in Religion, Journalism & International Affairs

Selected Publications

Books (Monographs)

Sea of Difference: Connection & Comprehension across the Indian Ocean (forthcoming)

Global Islam: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2020).

The Love of Strangers: What Six Muslim Students Learned in Jane Austen's London (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016).

Terrains of Exchange: Religious Economies of Global Islam (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015).

Bombay Islam: The Religious Economy of the West Indian Ocean, 1840-1915 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011).
Winner of the Middle East Studies Association's Albert Hourani Book Award & the Association for Asian Studies' Ananda K. Coomaraswamy Book Award Interview

Sufism: A Global History
(Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012; reprinted 2013).

Making Space: Sufis and Settlers in Early Modern India
(New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).

Islam and the Army in Colonial India: Sepoy Religion in the Service of Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009; paperback, 2012).

Indian Sufism since the Seventeenth Century: Saints, Books and Empires in the Muslim Deccan (London: Routledge, 2006; paperback 2009).

Books (Edited)

The Persianiate World: The Frontiers of a Eurasian Lingua Franca (University of California Press, 2019). [Free online version available]

Afghanistan's Islam: From Conversion to the Taliban (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2017). [Free online version available]

Afghan History through Afghan Eyes, edited by Nile Green (New York: Oxford University Press,  2016).

The Global Occult, guest edited issue of History of Religions 54, 4 (2015).

Global Muslims in the Age of Steam and Print, 1850-1930, edited by James Gelvin & Nile Green (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014).

Writing Travel in Central Asian History, edited by Nile Green (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014).

 Afghanistan in Ink: Literature between Diaspora and Nation, edited by Nile Green & Nushin Arbabzadah (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013).

Religion, Language and Power, edited by Nile Green & Mary Searle-Chatterjee (New York: Routledge, 2008; paperback 2012).

Articles and Book Chapters

“The Frontiers of the Persianate World (ca. 800–1900),” in Nile Green (ed.), The Persianiate World: The Frontiers of a Eurasian Lingua Franca (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2019).

“Proletarian Bodies and Muslim Festivals: Disciplining Pleasure in Colonial Bombay,” in Prashant Kidambi, Manjiri Kamat and Rachel Dwyer (eds), Bombay Before Mumbai (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019).

“The Waves of Heterotopia: Toward a Vernacular Intellectual History of the Indian Ocean,” American Historical Review 123, 3 (2018). 

"From Persianate Pasts to Aryan Antiquity: Transnationalism and Transformation in Afghan Intellectual History, c.1880–1940," Afghanistan 1, 1 (2018).

"What is 'Global Islam'? Definitions for a Field of Inquiry," Diogenes 256 (2018).

"The Afghan Discovery of Buddha: Civilizational History & the Nationalizing of Afghan Antiquity", International Journal of Middle East Studies 48, 4 (2016).

"The View from the Edge: The Indian Ocean's Middle East", International Journal of Middle East Studies 48, 3 (2016).

"Muslims, Europe, and the 'Clash of Civilizations': How Can Historiography Help Us?", Perspectives on Europe (2016).

"Fordist Connections: The Automotive Integration of the United States and Iran", Comparative Studies in Society and History 58, 2 (2016).

"A History of Afghan Historiography", in Nile Green (ed.), Afghan History through Afghan Eyes (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016).

"The Hajj as its Own Undoing: Infrastructure & Integration on the Muslim Journey to Mecca", Past & Present 226 (2015).

"Islam in the Early Modern World", in Jerry Bentley & Sanjay Subrahmanyam (eds), The New Cambridge World History: The Early Modern Period, vol.6, pt.2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).

"Buddhism, Islam and the Religious Economy of Colonial Burma", Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 46, 2 (2015).

"The Global Occult: An Introduction", History of Religions 54, 4 (2015).

"Re-Thinking the 'Middle East' After the Oceanic Turn", Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 34, 3 (2014).

"From the Silk Road to the Railroad (and Back): The Means and Meanings of the Iranian Encounter with China", Iranian Studies 48, 2 (2015) (download pdf).

"Breaking the Begging Bowl: Morals, Drugs & Madness in the Fate of the Muslim Faqir", South Asian History & Culture 5, 2 (2014).

"Spacetime and the Muslim Journey West: Industrial Communications in the Making of the 'Muslim World'",

American Historical Review 118, 2 (2013).

"Shared Infrastructures, Informational Asymmetries: Persians and Indians in Japan, c. 1890-1930", Journal of Global History 8, 3 (2013).

"Locating Afghan History", International Journal of Middle East Studies 45, 1 (2013).

"Forgotten Futures: Indian Muslims in the Trans-Islamic Turn to Japan", Journal of Asian Studies 72, 3 (2013).

"Maritime Worlds and Global History: Comparing the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean through Barcelona and Bombay", History Compass 11, 7 (2013).

"Anti-Colonial Japanophilia and the Constraints of an Islamic Japanology: Information and Affect in the Indian Encounter with Japan", Journal of South Asian History and Culture 4, 3 (2013).

“The Afghan Afterlife of Phileas Fogg: Space and Time in the Literature of Afghan Travel”, in Nile Green & Nushin Arbabzadah (eds), Afghanistan in Ink: Literature between Diaspora and Nation (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013).

"The Rail Hajjis: The Trans-Siberian Railway and the Long Way to Mecca", in Venetia Porter (ed.), Hajj: Collected Essays (London: British Museum, 2013).

"Africa in Indian Ink: Urdu Articulations of Indian Settlement in East Africa", Journal of African History 53, 2 (2012).

"Urdu as an African Language: A Survey of a Source Literature", Islamic Africa 3, 2 (2012).

"Parnassus of the Evangelical Empire: Orientalism in the English Universities, 1800-1850", Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 40, 3 (2012).

"The Trans-Border Traffic of Afghan Modernism: Afghanistan and the Indian 'Urdusphere'”, Comparative Studies in Society and History 53, 3 (2011).

"The Trans-Colonial Opportunities of Bible Translation: Iranian Language-Workers between the Russian and British Empires", in Michael Dodson & Brian Hatcher (eds), Trans-Colonial Modernities in South Asia (London: Routledge, 2012).

“The Road to Kabul: Automobiles and Afghan Internationalism, 1900-1940”, in Magnus Marsden & Benjamin Hopkins (eds), Beyond Swat: History, Society and Economy along the Afghanistan-Pakistan Frontier (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012).

“The Madrasas of Oxford: Iranian Interactions with the English Universities in the Early Nineteenth Century”, Iranian Studies 44, 6 (2011).

"Kebabs and Port Wine: The Culinary Cosmopolitanism of Anglo-Persian Dining, 1800-1835", in Derryl Maclean & Sikeena Karmali (eds), Cosmopolitanisms in Muslim Contexts (Edinburgh University Press, 2012).

"The Propriety of Poetry: Morality and Mysticism in the Nineteenth Century Urdu Religious Lyric", Middle Eastern Literatures 13, 3 (2010).

"The Dilemmas of the Pious Biographer: Missionary Islam and the Oceanic Hagiography", Journal of Religious History 34, 4 (2010).

"Stones from Bavaria: Iranian Lithography in its Global Contexts", Iranian Studies 43, 3 (2010). [Persian translation published in Payam-e Baharestan tabestan 1391 (summer 2012)]

"Persian Print and the Stanhope Revolution: Industrialization, Evangelicalism & the Birth of Printing in Early Qajar Iran", Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 30, 3 (2010). [Persian translation published in Iran Nameh: A Persian Quarterly of Iranian Studies 26, 3-4 (2011)]

"The Uses of Books in a Late Mughal Takiyya: Persianate Knowledge between Person and Paper", Modern Asian Studies 44, 2 (2010).

"Journeymen, Middlemen: Travel, Trans-Culture and Technology in the Origins of Muslim Printing", International Journal of Middle East Studies 41, 2 (2009).

"Among the Dissenters: Reciprocal Ethnography in Nineteenth Century Inglistan", Journal of Global History 4, 2 (2009).

"Defending the Sufis in Nineteenth Century Hyderabad”, Islamic Studies 47, 3 (2009).

"The Development of Arabic-Script Printing in Georgian Britain", Printing History n.s. 5 (2009).

"In the Universe of Mirrors: An Urdu Mystical Poet of Nineteenth Century Hyderabad", Journal of Deccan Studies 7, 2 (2009).

"Islam for the Indentured Indian: A Muslim Missionary in Colonial South Africa", Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 71, 3 (2008).

"Tribe, Diaspora and Sainthood in Afghan History", Journal of Asian Studies 67, 1 (2008).

"Jack Sepoy and the Dervishes: Islam and the Indian Soldier in Princely Hyderabad", Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 18, 1 (2008). [Winner of the Sir George Staunton Prize, Royal Asiatic Society]

"Breathing in India, c.1890", Modern Asian Studies 42, 2-3 (2008).

"Moral Competition and the Thrill of the Spectacular: Recounting Catastrophe in Colonial Bombay", South Asia Research 28, 3 (2008).

"Paper Modernity? Notes on an Iranian Industrial Tour, 1818", Iran: Journal of Persian Studies 46 (2008).

"Transgressions of a Holy Fool: A Majzub in Colonial India [Introduction & Translations from the Urdu]", in Barbara D. Metcalf (ed.), Islam in South Asia in Practice (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009).

"Making Sense of ‘Sufism’ in the Indian Subcontinent: A Survey of Trends", Religion Compass (Blackwell Online, 2008).

"Between Heidegger and the Hidden Imam: Reflections on Henry Corbin's Approaches to Mystical Islam", in Mohammad-Reza Djalili, Alessandro Monsutti & Anna Neubauer (eds), Le Monde turco-iranien en question (Paris: Karthala, 2008).

"Idiom, Genre and the Politics of Self-Description on the Peripheries of Persian", in Nile Green & Mary Searle-Chatterjee (eds), Religion, Language and Power (New York: Routledge, 2008).

"Religion, Language and Power: An Introductory Essay" (with Mary Searle-Chatterjee), in Nile Green & Mary Searle-Chatterjee (eds), Religion, Language and Power (New York: Routledge, 2008).

"Saints, Rebels and Booksellers: Sufis in the Cosmopolitan Western Indian Ocean, c.1850-1920", in Kai Kresse & Edward Simpson (eds), Struggling with History: Islam and Cosmopolitanism in the Western Indian Ocean (New York: Columbia UP, 2007).

"The Faqir and the Subalterns: Mapping the Holy Man in Colonial South Asia", Journal of Asian History 41, 1 (2007).

"Shi'ism, Sufism and Sacred Space in the Deccan: Counter-Narratives of Saintly Identity in the Cult of Shah Nur", in Alessandro Monsutti, Silvia Naef & Farian Sabahi (eds), The Other Shi'ites: From the Mediterranean to Central Asia (Berne, Frankfurt & New York: Peter Lang, 2007).

"Blessed Men and Tribal Politics: Notes on Political Culture in the Indo-Afghan World", Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 49, 3 (2006).

"Ostrich Eggs and Peacock Feathers: Sacred Objects as Cultural Exchange Between Christianity and Islam", Al-Masaq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean 18, 1 (2006), pp.27-66.

"Making a 'Muslim' Saint: Writing Customary Religion in an Indian Princely State", Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 25, 3 (2005).

"Mirza Hasan Safi 'Ali Shah: A Persian Sufi in the Age of Printing [Introduction and Selected Translations]", in Lloyd Ridgeon (ed.), Religion and Politics in Modern Iran (London: I.B Tauris, 2005).

"Mystical Missionaries in Hyderabad State: Mu'in Allah Shah and his Sufi Reform Movement", Indian Economic and Social History Review 41, 2 (2005).

"Translating the Spoken Words of the Saints: Oral Literature and the Sufis of Awrangabad", in Lynne Long (ed.), Religion and Translation: Holy Untranslatable? (Toronto: Multilingual Matters, 2005).

"Stories of Saints and Sultans: Re-membering History at the Sufi Shrines of Aurangabad", Modern Asian Studies 38, 2 (2004).

"Geography, Empire and Sainthood in the Eighteenth Century Muslim Deccan", Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 67, 2 (2004).

"Oral Competition Narratives of Muslim and Hindu Saints in the Deccan", Asian Folklore Studies 63, 2 (2004).

"A Persian Sufi in British India: The Travels of Mirza Hasan Safi 'Ali Shah (1835-1899)", Iran: Journal of Persian Studies 42 (2004).

"Emerging Approaches to the Sufi Traditions of South Asia: Between Texts, Territories and the Transcendent", South Asia Research 24, 2 (2004) [reprinted in L. Ridgeon (ed.), Sufism: Critical Concepts (London & New York: Routledge, 2008.)]

"Who's the King of the Castle? Brahmins, Sufis and the Narrative Landscape of Daulatabad", Contemporary South Asia 13, 3 (2004).

"Auspicious Foundations: The Patronage of Sufi Institutions in the Late Mughal and Early Asaf Jah Deccan", South Asian Studies 20 (2004).

"The Religious and Cultural Roles of Dreams and Visions in Islam", Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 13, 3 (2003).

"Migrant Sufis and Sacred Space in South Asian Islam", Contemporary South Asia 12, 4 (2003).

"The Survival of Zoroastrianism in Yazd", Iran: Journal of Persian Studies 38 (2000).

"A New Translation of Suhrawardi's The Crimson Archangel ('Aql-e-Surkh)", Sufi: Journal of Sufi Studies 36 (1998).


World history; Islam & Muslims in global history; early modern & modern history of India/Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asia; Muslim interactions with the non-Muslim world; Sufism; the Indian Ocean; Persian & Urdu travel writing; Islamic printing.